Forgiveness Must be Taught

I beg and plead with you to please teach your children about forgiveness. Teach them to confess there sins and ask for forgiveness. Children have built in grace and the ability to forgive. It is a beautiful thing, but they need to understand it and I am not sure we always teach it.

When my son was old enough to get into trouble I taught him to say the words, “I am sorry, do you forgive me?” He will be seven tomorrow. I have two girls one twelve and the other nine and I started it with them when I started it with my son.

Although I see my children still struggling with shame and guilt I am giving them a gift I was not given. And with many other things I hope that in time it will manifest itself as it should.

I grew up in a time when right equaled good and wrong equaled bad. It was understood that when I did wrong there would be a punishment. I, therefore, tried not to get a punishment. Even at church there was an understanding of this line of right and wrong. I don’t remember ever hearing the words, “I forgive you.” And maybe it was because I never said, “I am sorry.” But I believe it was because forgiveness was not taught. 

The emphasis was placed on correcting the behavior. It was said many times, “Do what I say, not what I do.” And that was that. I did wrong. I got a spankin’, a toy taken away, a writing assignment to write a hundred bizzillion times, “I will not lie.”…until my arm fell off. It was just understood. I was to learn how to be good. Many argue we need more of this discipline today. My beef is not with discipline it is with not teaching forgiveness.

I lived my life, even part of my grown up life, feeling bad for what I did and expecting a punishment. As a grown up I had to punish myself by ruminating about it or negative self talk for screwing something up. I had no idea how to forgive myself, let alone another person. I did wrong so I was bad.

In our house we try to make saying, “Ia sorry, do you forgive me?” common practice even in our prayers. We forgive because Jesus forgave us, but we emphasis that asking another for forgiveness is important but that receiving it from another is too.

It is not always immediate to feel the feelings or the want to forgive but working towards active forgiveness is a beautiful gift first given to us by the savior. 

Now I need to say that forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be fully reconciled to someone. It is ideal, but not commanded, only the forgiveness part. 

I will warn you forgiveness is a messy process. Especially if you have been holding on to a resentment for a long time, but I encourage you to go through it because it is worth every tear, and if you believe in God then you won’t be alone through the process.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 ESV

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 ESV

Forgiveness has changed my life. I believe it is important, and that is why I am begging and pleading with you to teach your children and yourself how to forgive.

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